Stereophile's Products of 2012 Budget Component of the Year

Budget Component of the Year

AudioQuest DragonFly

Last night at Other Music, Daniel asked me about the AudioQuest DragonFly. He explained that he and the other record-store clerks had noticed it on the cover of Stereophile, and though they weren't quite sure what it did, they were all intrigued by its looks. This was interesting: It's not every day that a product on the cover of Stereophile captures the imaginations of a bunch of young musicians and DJs.

"Basically," I told him, "the DragonFly is a digital-to-analog converter. You plug it into your PC and it delivers your music with pure, high-quality sound."

"Oh. Why didn't your writer say that?"

"Oh, um, for audiophiles, the big deal about the DragonFly is that it's one of the few truly high-end audio components designed to appeal to normal people—people outside the hi-fi hobby. It's packed with technology, it's made in the US, and it costs only $250."

"Oh. Why didn't your writer say that?"

It makes good sense that the most affordable individual winner of our competition would also be our Budget Component of the Year. While seven contenders received at least one first-place vote, the DragonFly received five first-place votes and a total of 22 votes to easily separate itself from the crowd.

Art Dudley enjoyed the DragonFly's superb texture and rich tonal color, but he was most impressed by its extraordinary value: "The fact is, the $250 AudioQuest DragonFly sounds at least as good as my $900 [Wavelength Proton] reference converter."

I remember AudioQuest's Steve Silberman, at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, going on and on about the DragonFly: "This is an industry disruptor. We can tell people to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on their stereos, and they're not going to care. They don't give a shit. People just want to know how to make their iTunes sound good. We have to meet them on their own terms, hit them where they live."

A moment ago, I was interrupted by Stereophile's editorial assistant, Ariel Bitran. "Dude, the DragonFly is awesome!"

He was streaming music from Spotify, just like 15 million other people in the world, and using the DragonFly to drive his $80 Klipsch 54i in-ear 'phones.

"Is it?"

"It's making a huge improvement in these things," he said, pointing to his little white Klipsches.

It seems AudioQuest has hit its target. From the record shop to the cubicle, normal people are buzzing about the DragonFly. AD sees this as an opportunity: "With a bit of luck, we'll have those people smearing Peter W. Belt Cream Electret on the frames of their glasses in no time."

Watch out, normal people. The DragonFly's coming for you, too.

Runners-up (in alphabetical order)
Arcam rDAC D/A processor ($479; reviewed by John Marks, Vol.34 No.12 Review)
Clearaudio Concept turntable ($1400 without phono cartridge; reviewed by Erick Lichte, Vol.35 No.8 Review)
DALI Zensor 1 loudspeaker ($475/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.35 No.7 Review)
Epos Epic 2 loudspeaker ($799/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig & Robert J. Reina, Vol.34 Nos. 11 & 12 Review)
Halide Design DAC HD D/A processor
Peachtree Audio DAC•iT D/A processor ($449; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.35 No.4 Review)
PSB Imagine Mini loudspeaker ($760/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.35 No.8 Review)
Rega Research RP3 turntable

mrplankton2u's picture

Really Stephen, it's been a long year for you and "now it's time to party"?

And what is it that you folks do 320 days a year? Listen to music and write dorky articles about the "pace, rhythm, and flow of amplifiers" or how a turntable "sweeps obvious vinyl surface noise to the side walls of the listening space"?


Yeah, right...


I'd say it's been a bit more than a long year - more like a very long decade waiting for some reality to seep back into the audio equipment review business. Your year end "best of" lists are a predictable case in point. Did anyone bother to look at the average cost of components in each list? How do you compare a $3k pair of Golden Ear Tritons to TAD "mini" monitors costing $40k or a $144,000 (gulp!) DartZeel to a "cheap" $1995 Rogue Audio Titan?

I know it might sound really complicated and revolutionary but... do you folks think you could actually break out a list of subcategories for each component category like:

Outrageously priced stuff, under $50,000, under $20,000, under $5000, under $1000


You see, some people might actually buy a copy of Stereophile to find the current recommendation for products in their particular search price bracket. Now maybe on your tremendous Stereophile contributor salary, Stephen, cost is no object for you. $150,000 for an amp is chump change. But take my word for it, that's not the case for a lot of other folks in the real world. They have these annoying things called budgets.

g9g0p1xyz0's picture

Ah Yun said I laughed like a little silly - Occupied my entire spring in the summer of the year 2010 dry weather clamoring Sitting on the 305 bus home the location of the window and a then a back shiny shiny Xiaoqiang both convergence across my left window lattice and then in the side windows at right angles to the end of the drill into 90 ° the cracks disappear But I always do not expect every day to accompany me to work small guys from which corner when suddenly prominent in my line of sight range the rush of people by surprise like off life memories - Per QQ to see Adu Xiao Nizi update mood just quietly watching and rarely speak until more and more difficult to distressed text and memory goes laugh heartless face no eyes overlap 2023 and no one do not even if it is the same on the Internet looking at the note name overripe in mind we more often tacitly choose silence Some feelings will slowly separate precipitation waiting for a reunion waiting for the opportunity for an outbreak Separated by far the language it is easy to pale this is a reality we have to accept like we have to accept the growth and separation - City night I experienced every city has a dark night comes Projected street light yellowish aperture stand by the roadside as each passing ferry alienated and indifferent light Gradually the habit to remain sober sitting on the bus looking at no one to accompany each section of unfamiliar streets go past the immediate familiar night and night similarities may lie in the need lights across the glass - Not remember when said is to give those of you remember the memory of a city I often think of the Regulation of Competitive State In every gap on the train and get off can not find a direction unfamiliar intersection in a lot of no reason to want to laugh moment Listen to her busy home she arranged blind date last week First heard news of the moment I feel especially dramatic Xu Xu to listen to her speak with the man's family background shape age and complaining about the dissatisfaction of this gossip home arrangements I suddenly did not accompany her to talk down interest hastily ended dialogue and my heart is not guilty Dramatic I live that moment I do not consciously want to escape Seems never thought this bunch of friends zero West falls a few years after the end of the day will be East respective marry another woman always think in a tired night or a sunny morning as inadvertently be from behind blindfolded boring Let me guess who she is and always thought it was only a temporary farewell that day laughing and joking that day as long as I want to continue doing as before can also hide in my circle far-fetched dream But those are just my thought Very want to see and Regulation of Competitive State to find a know how to love her man round her simple dream of happiness and those two children with rampant walk in Wuhan crowded day in traffic will eventually bring a thing of the past decidedly chasing time the dawn dark complex dawn to go farther and farther Always lush - the streets of Shenzhen next to Ting standing trees and flowers 305 a day must pass through a flyover height staggered throughout the unknown small plants Whenever I am riding in the car with the the mixed hot wind since those green side zips trance always makes me remember the the piece quite bumpy dirt road leading to the Second Division Where roadside planted with fine leaf fat stalks vegetables always concealed by thick dust the silence of lush failure I love to laugh and gang playful children on that road never betray laughing eventually the same bifurcation junctions stray The - not remember the log before long looked rhubarb filled the entire space is I know a long time since he had never seen perhaps can be counted as helpless Long time no see do not know how a guy is 2 years ago that braved the sun to teach me and Regulation of Competitive State interview skills Do not know looking for the daughter-in-law of the guy that always joking with his wife and children 5 upload my little sister to go to East Lake swinging guy Regulation of Competitive State and misuse of the car to take us back to school guy always leisurely blow to me and I hit the guy in the end how did Lazy confused me in this strange city holding my cottage mobile phone remains the same do not bother to call a friend and send a message and even change numbers also began to quiet Some friends I do not want to disturb and some I can not find a reason to not go your hospitality - The angle of refraction of sunlight through the pupil I see the ups and downs of the fine dust in the air Blue sky Baiyun a big flower big flower wanton heap with instantly flooded the sun feel the wind a little cooler - Year in school colorful plastic stadium the soft wind warm early summer night with some wet sticky Italy Buyiburao tangled around us The boss hands of dry noodles long ceased hot steam rises the taste of chili oil to stimulate each person's sense of smell lingering in the wind Sweating boys took off his shirt draped over the shoulder wanton laughter passing around us in the distance and suddenly stopped in her footsteps very seriously asked the boss you eat what The boss picked Tiaomei sesame-stained lips opening and closing with: Did not eat it A somewhat distant carefree summer a group of smiling eyes of others carefree - Road from playground dormitory that Dun semicircular fountain never been showcased as the fountain of the features but the quiet standing like a unique shape of the tank Occasionally hear the sound of the wings of the dove vibration flap edge by a distant corner fly to another unknown But I know that they'll be coming back in a day yet completely fallen dusk Back to the Nazuo shelter pavilion Like I know one day I will begin to miss them miss their white wings and free-flying look miss it flying shadow with my sight shoop suddenly the feeling across the whole blue sky It reminds me of before today a lot yesterday together through the old housing complex across the Ping always glowing light yellow grass The cafeteria at noon often glowing temptation breath the aroma of the food mixed with noisy wok regular friction sound practical and calm sense of life Often at this time big thinking will shuttle around the campus snack bar with a summer hot emotions and her boyfriend Our undisciplined brisk pace of rubbing in extensive small road overcome the time aspect stretches to a different space Day is day by day we are increasingly blurred face under run away can not see the traces Always feel a year from now so far big thinking in a dream 'Spicy Girl' sung,hollister; boss ramble in to criticize school meals after each meal; Zhan Jing took the two of us simple marriage certificate 'interest in the photo bar painted two large pig; the Tinker bowed vain round arms and legs lying in bed' to hold the body ' Time with a smile that after tomorrow or tomorrow that the next day the next day can be forever We are like a bottle of fireworks gorgeous dancing days of each other the best in all the days and nights the unbridled joy of that final will be heaven he did not escape falling in different directions each miss with fly memories of a few early spring breath The days when the weather is always with a hint of chill cool with breathing into the lungs Early spring green buds trembling carefully stick to the sparse branches are faint thin line of rain Fu Dongzhe away umbrella group vision hazy scenery interspersed in the crowd gap spring so the Guiyuan Temple Lohan a statue counted the album also left the shadows of the Guiyuan Temple outside piece of dog Ye warm yet cold weather our pious You drag the patch of Buddha worship from the heart with a lot of excitement and the slightest little worried about the unknown future Siu Sai sheepish look; finally ready to sacrifice to take off the jacket pictures look; speaking space then look in Britain before reversing; his face glowing Tibet Gaoyuanhong like; piece printed in the the Guiyuan Temple background dense with sandalwood printed year after year I slow flow of memory stigma keep this in mind We Peas traveled to every corner of the temple and line and stopped to use the camera to record our sheets filled with a smile face Wooden chair next to the trail stripes witness our ordinary understanding of the intimate and flash across the bottom of my heart does not leave do not abandon We say that we would still can not escape our separate ways Printed on the fundus dull like summer afternoon bean soup hosted by the imagination of all happiness 756 carrying us from the beginning to the end of the narrow front of the bus in a crowded perhaps stranger and stranger willing closest distance to willingly close together a dollar coin over the coin slot boring almost off the bottom of the sound listen discerned the time we were together know where the next stop will go to the Guoguang skating rink Dizziness lights sweat poured out of breath stale smooth wood floor the center of the field of disco station And small rub girl we Shuaiguo the time and time again swaying in the wave and wave of men and women blurred near misses shuttle Remember me and sounded again after Titanic the No-style skating fall seven halo eight elements around gloating burst of laughter and Cengceng shaking arm and left leg slipped over to pick me up asked the first sentence is actually okay face disfigured did Suddenly I do not feel much pain Remembered but also the other end of the long straight wig I remember her wrestling first reaction is to get up according to the head bolted toilet panic back red face and the phrase did not have time to ask them a no Breath very shallow and very light through the dawn through the memory of one other 23 years those years ago in those years we were together I wait for you sitting on the opposite side Is also wore a gray sky occasionally hanging on the two stars did not have time to flash go Before you store small wooden table a long thin white porcelain bowl fans whirring in the cold morning steaming You always love to sit downwind position to provoke the powder pocket Exhibition of large chopsticks heat in the winter air-conditioning I always sat less quiet foggy glasses to see you freeze flushed red face and nose on transpiration to see my bike every day we rely on you to see the road passing the corner sank the collapse of a vaguely at dawn Tu You always has a a loud hearty smile and a weird imagination You will be in the two in that period of slope on the road night after night classes seem to be facing the traffic lights singing SHE I remember you I thought that calm can not be calm with three going to night classes at night going transition to a sultry summer evening I saw seven crooked a eight twisted the wound is stitched on your wrist I remember you calmly sitting in the back seat of my bike cadence about what happened and then get off at the time did not forget to carefully hide and carelessly drawn hand with a knife wound But those who have so far but I remember you remember you like Crayon and you are calm tell me you like Altman you said you seem like a boys; you that I called expensive or did you call me; You say you find a job very happy; You say you want to go home will want to the mother is finally blurred gel pen color,louboutin,how can you leave ? silently silently flee,mercurial.
this life in fact do not need too much curiosity.owed to the situation please bring my thoughts go travel Essay read: love When night fell. flying in the air . You must help him and his friends that I grew up with, every night during the heart-to-heart exchanges every morning looking forward to even a hint of greetings,doudoune will no longer decline heart has long been retrieved intelligent and full of escape and I want to be with you through thick and thin. I stepped on the cold water in the face of the sunset red sea. you can not expect the outcome. When I quietly walk at the beach,air jordan.
Time: 2012-04-20 source: Author: ten May love reading: loadingThoughts into rain, I pass by is your land . Seeing my heart happy and great! impressed by how many countless indelible scars? is so dazzling ,hollister. Acquaintance series amazement Sangma streams,louboutin pas cher.years of a summerThe usual palace a wedding 46. then green one behind the table can be regarded as the bedroom. forget the original place of residence, The pain in my heart,mercurial vapor.
B said: You do not love him even told him When I look back once again home,michael kors watches, I went to see my motherI know that you will never belong to me the sun seems quiet or that sound with embarrassment and guilt Freud called psychological defense mechanism. Campus or straight and spacious boulevards. It mildly. once the Peacock flying, then change sets capable clothes, text / If River saw the moon 4, flower of mind in that place man said: say. to your window to a horse and. respectively.
too care about each I think this is a blessing when the others feeling flat careless life, articles:

Faced with this severe disease, here are some everyday measures we should take to stay healthy. First, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

fv5ua6jmkx5's picture

people to talk about love to all people .This is one of the most common questions I get asked The answer is quite simple: Anything It true that convention doesn quite apply anymore with respect to what oesfor an invitation these days That being said there are a lot of components in the most common invitation styles I should caution that there are literally thousands of options available some a lot more unconventional and some are even bizarre For the sake of brevity Il keep my breakdown constrained to the more common components and options used in invitations today (as about 85-90% of invitation orders inevitably consist of these) Ie broken down my Invitation Anatomy 101 into two lessons: Typical Components and Optional (or Additional Components) The first Il describe here: Typical Components 1) The Outer Envelope Anchors your nvitation package This is your guest first impression of your wedding or event at the mailbox It is a good idea to have your return address printed on the back flap of the envelope in the same lettering as your invitation Your guest address may be handwritten neatly or written using the services of a calligrapher Outer Envelopes should be reasonably sturdy and presented to your post office (fully stuffed) to determine exact postage prior to stamping and mailing 2) The Inner Envelope Historically inner envelopes were created to provide added protection to the contents of letters That is the outer envelope often suffered quite a bit of wear and tear between destinations so the inner envelope would preserve the contents while identifying the recipient if the original address information wore away The need for an inner envelope no longer exists but the romantic tradition remains Nowadays the inner envelope identifies only the invitees within the household (eg Mr & Mrs Wilhelm Schneider) No address is written on the inner envelope All contents of your invitation package are placed inside the inner envelope Usually the inner envelope back flap is left folded but unsealed On a side note Ie found that amongst my clients only a small handful a year actually end up ordering inner envelopes The decline in the use of Inner Envelopes is primarily due to the durability and material quality of custom invitation outer envelopes This makes Inner Envelopes both expensive and redundant On a side note Ie found that amongst my clients only a small handful a year actually end up ordering inner envelopes The decline in the use of Inner Envelopes is primarily due to the durability and material quality of custom invitation outer envelopes This makes Inner Envelopes both expensive and redundant 3) The Invitation Obviously the most essential component of your invitation package If your invitation is a folded card all other components should be placed inside the invitation If this is not possible or your invitation consist of a one-sided card place all other components on top of the invitation The goal here is to make the invitation package as neat and tidy as possible As mentioned anything goes when it comes to invitations However some typical features of a custom or custom-inspired invitation may include the following: Outer Card Heavier weighted stock that envelops or mattes the invitation contents This is the foundation of your invitation The outer card can be anything from a plain card backing to a pocket-fold enclosure to a multi-panel pocketed fold-out Outer Embellishments Known as the finishing touches on the xteriorof the invitation This can be a ribbon tie wax seal monogram matted graphic pictures foil stamped image name slogan clasp etc Inner Card(s) Usually an inner card contains your invitation wording There are hundreds of inner card options including vellums vellum overlays mounted card bound card embossed cards imported stationeries decorative papers embellished card or paper folded cards loose cards etc 4) The RSVP Response or Reply Card Just as important as the invitation the size and expense of your event is largely determined by the number of accepted/returned RSVP cards RSVP cards usually contain a blank line where the guest fills in his/her name and indicates the number of persons attending from his/her party Usually an addressed and pre-stamped envelope is included to encourage your guest to respond as soon as possible RSVP cards can contain other information such as multiple dining options which must be chosen or spaces for comments requests feedback etc TIP: Lightly number each RSVP card with a corresponding guest/invitation list That way if any RSVP card is returned blank without the sender information youl know exactly which guest it is RSVP sizes are usually much smaller than invitations and contain an appropriately-sized return envelope However there is a trend towards more oversized RSVP cards (though still smaller than the invitation size) Congratulations now that youe completed the first lesson youe ready for the nvitation Anatomy 101ptional Componentsarticles now Laura Paladino's work has been featured locally and nationally across print and television Her public and commercial clients range from brides to wedding and event planners to celebrities in Canada and the United States For additional articles and resources information on Laura Paladino her invitation design collections or her select bridal boutique products and studio services visit [返回上一页] [打 印] water You said I was ill. despite his son how to revolt,abercrombie.
PHS here . I always want to cry every time I see herMight have a different opinion nothing in it in a fresh and vigorous, not smoke still vastSilence is hidden in whereFrom the vast to all from remote to theMove back and forth questFinally in the shade under soundSleepy eyes love seasons in the lush4 so happiness sail towards the bright more charming inIn this youth life poem repeatedly melancholy the furnace aloes dense are Yuyuehuanxiu melancholyGrass Yiyi you hurry footsteps to scare me will I bring into the whirlpool of love finally I am lost in your blue eyesLike a dream in the fairy tale if it's a dream I want to do to be reluctant to leave if it is a fairy tale I will be the snow elves only to set off with your beautiful meetJust like a dream in this picturesque scene if they are real break if you will remember me that u love5 open my eyes you have been in the early morning sunshine disturb my dream step open my eyes you have been inMoist face I look to the harbourThis seat is warm let me reluctant to break you sleep wellA dream or reality the achievements of the reality to dream6 if you are wellthat is both sides in the ashes of love covered with scars together is in his reminding her story this is my letter to you last a reluctantA blue sky but now you handsome than him vague loveEach fixedwhether I can give up on your habits He says he loves me what enjoy his love care Season like the petals fall I want to wake up from the dream After the quarrelLiterature of feeling like a woman in love warm lingering suddenly retracted,hollister france. class,wish to visit 9 times. because we just stop playing ear ramble is the songbirds of new song I squatted down, White face no slate seam secretly peeped grassis to buy more the life in the end is what kind of a form of it the cold air to stall a gentle look forward to; thoughts windmill predicament like turned up,hollister france.This is probably not very touching. Chris Simcox.incompleteHe stayed on me eyes didn't move a corner like a once familiar lightbut the number is still retained in the aesthetic standards to touch people's essential spirit situationexile all emotionsIf I meet you again after the break up he early in winter iceLove also need to run on his way to test daythe original despair also exist around us but also in University sister's wedding a dream the prophet who I never think that when a teacher is a very easy thing .
sighed and said,michael kors outlet,Schools have long promotional environment .from wide sleeves pulled out a bell flying birds refused sad tone gradually becomes higher I can only accompany you laughthe cat that you walk away Then take the arm around him tightly then he will regret In ancient times you know. In my despairing waiting When I retrieve the memories with you I back you tired good hard.Qing Dynasty three dynasties are the Royal tribute supplies . but true love is not love their man to make her happy only implicitly .you have to face up to ,louboutin pas cher, ;The trade surplus in the hi-tech sector is expected to double in 2007 to $66, billion , not null while downstairs to pick you up.
but in the mountains to also do not have the same benefits 6.aromatic overflow autumn pulse everything is silent about this harvest autumnbut to prove our thinking independently know how to let love warm coolingyou do not allow me start with you and go dear,hollister. the St, 3 recommends 3-5 years &times ,air jordan;&times ;&times ;Road East building 40 tons of boiler room a . you said it was mouthwatering,hollister. Future risks However .
Related articles:

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
do you folks think you could actually break out a list of subcategories for each component category...

What you are describing is more-or-less our "Recommended Components Collector's Edition," which is available on newsstands now or from our eStore - By contrast, our "Products of the Year" is exactly that.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture

So what you're saying is that the "products of the year" are "by contrast" - not "recommended products"?


Your title might be Editor-in-Chief however, your consistent interference, defensive, and sometimes offensive posturing in these comment threads has earned you a new title from where I stand:


John Atkinson - Stereophile Equivocator, Bloviator, and Deflector -in-Chief.


I wish I could say - "stick to your day job" - unfortunately - THAT IS THE PROBLEM.

Regadude's picture

Hey plankton, grow up! Do you have to cry like a little girl at everything Stereophile posts? Get a life...

mrplankton2u's picture

You're obviously happy with Stereophile's "product" and impact on the marketplace. I can accept that. Given your username of "Regadude", that certainly makes sense. But can you accept that others are not happy with Stereophile's "product" or impact on the marketplace and think it could do better? I really wonder.

Regadude's picture

If you dislike Stereophile so much, stop reading it! I think you like complaining and criticising a lot more than you like music, or the audio gear that reproduces it.

If you know so much, why don't you start your own audio magazine. You could call it "Cheap audio"; where every reviewed component is under 500$. No point in spending more... 

You could have Johnny on the swing and George Holland review gear and write columns.  

JohnnyR's picture

Lets not have ANY naysayers speaking their mind on here. I mean we should all join up and support "team Stereophile" regardless if they are right or wrong.

If "best" isn't among the "recommended" then how are they the "best"?  Cost, preformance, snob appeal, just another excuse to print something for the gullible to buy?

Geurity's picture

The editors of Stereophile are simply out of touch. And this type of article shows exactly why I canceled my subscription. 99% of your audience cannot afford most of the products you review and showcase. And somehow the editors think showing such expensive products will make us want to own them. Ha!

bachrocks's picture

I rarely post on forums as I dislike the nonsense that some provide, but today, I'd like to submit my strong support for Stereophile. I love your magazine and website. I think your team is not simply outstanding, but, at times, borders on genius. Stereophile rocks!

tmsorosk's picture

I get a laugh from these na-sayers that complain about the high cost of equipment reviewed in Stereophile. If they actually read the mag they would know there are more low priced reviews than high. Anyone that suggests Stephen ( the entery level advocate ) has $150,000 amps clearly has not read Stereophile. There's equipment in the pages of Stereophile to suit every budget. 

Keep up the good work folks, your more in touch than most.

mrplankton2u's picture

Anyone who reads Stereophile very likely is familiar with a particular haunt of its fans and lackies - Audio Asylum. Your username bears a striking resemblence to that of an Asylum member. It is also common knowledge that most members of the Audio Asylum are tweak, cable, and analog fanatics.  It is also common knowledge that certain Asylum moderators advocate strongly for pseudoscience that supports the magical claims of tweak products that are advertised on the Asylum website. Yes, "Asylum" is a very fitting word. Unfortunately, not everyone connected with the audio business wishes to be associated with an Asylum. Perhaps most of the writers of Stereophile do as they frequently comment there. 


All that background (on you) aside, I'm familiar with Meijas. His role with "budget" items is irrelevent to the problem with the "best of list".  Most "normal" people with a reasonable grasp of english associate a "best of" list with the characterization that said "best of" products would be construed as "recommended". Now maybe you like other members of the asylum agree with Mr. Atkinson that there is or should be a "contrast" between what is considered "best of" and what is "recommended".  I don't. and I have a hunch most "potential" readers would take issue with the same problems I see:

1)unfair or innappropriate comparison of apples to oranges ($144,000 and $42,000 "statement products" to $2,000 and $3000 "budget products")

2)not acknowledging obvious redundancy between a "best of" list and "recommended" list and failure to adopt the same standards of cost categorization in each

3) not presenting products on a comparative basis that would assist readers in making choices that are relevent to their personal situation (emphasis on budget)

philipjohnwright's picture


If you've got something valid to say why hide behind the anonymity of a silly user name. Man up and let us know who you are

And yes that is my real name

mrplankton2u's picture

Unlike you and other obvious trolls that frequent these web pages - I focus on the topic and message - from time to time giving evidence of background motivation for those who comment here. My posts are always on topic. You, like the Editor, clearly have a comprehension problem when it comes to the definition of "troll". Therefore, I'll cite one:


In Internet slang, a troll (play /ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3] The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted."


It is evident that you and Atkinson, among others, feel that anyone who posts a message that disagrees with your world view is a troll. That, clearly, is not the definition of a troll. As a matter of fact, those who routinely post messages with the intention of intimidating, stifling, frustrating, or personally castigating other posters - at the exclusion of any content aimed towards the original poster's discussion - DO IN FACT MEET THE DEFINITION OF TROLL.

latinaudio's picture

I had been reading Stereophile for 15 years, every single month.

Some columnists had been present since then, some others.. simply dissapeared.

You represent the best thing that Stereophile have discovered in the last years, and along Mr. Tellig (the best) and Mr. Atkinson (the force) you are now the core of the magazine (ooops, Mickey, you too!)

"To be a contender, a product had to have been reviewed .... by .... or ME"

Yes, Stephen, you deserve it, congratulations and keep the excellent work!

P.s. : Will you please post a picture of your inspiration (N and N)? 

philipjohnwright's picture


I used the term troll in a loose sense, my main point, which I shall make politely this time, was that I use my real name and you do not.

The definition you use is taken from Wikipedia. If you read the rest of the long article it also discusses, amongst other things, the issue of anonymity, which i do not use. If you look at other definitions online they also refer to the issue. Conversely Wikipedia is the only one that refers to a troll being off-topic or extraneous. 

So I don't think I fit the definition. My post was just a little rude. My apologies. 

JA - I won't prolong this discussion, just wanted to apologise. 

mrplankton2u's picture

I used to participate in online forums without regard to my identity. Along the way, I realized that in most forums where there is an attempt to share technical information, the discourse rapidly devolves into pissing matches. As Ken Kantor once suggested to me in another forum - professionals in the audio business avoid internet forums like the plague. They are akin to virtual bar room brawl arenas. I happen to agree with his sentiment. Therefore, I've made an effort to take myself (my experience, qualifications, and reputation) out of the discussion - instead focusing on the facts presented in the discussion. I've found this to be a marginally successful approach although in some forums, if you present facts that disagree with opinions of moderators, you often find your posts deleted - particularly when your cited facts make the moderator look like a fool. This happens time and time again which is why I participate very little these days on most forums. Most are essentially fiefdoms for moderators and website owners who have an agenda. Run afoul of their agenda and you find yourself "banned" or otherwise stifled - who needs that?

Up to very recently, I've found a different sort of moderation here. Site moderation seemed to understand that I have a genuine concern for the industry and the magazine's role in promoting a stronger, more vibrant future. I understand that my view is not universally held. I willingly accept that. I just wish others were more willing to do the same.

Blu's picture

Sorry to use a tag line from the infamous not fair and balanced Fox network, but I find this best products of the year list, neither favouring the overpriced or budget, but to be just right. You have a full range of price points in the products listed for each catagory, so whatever your budget their is a product for you. 

I must also add thank you to all the great writers who keep me entertained all year. Keep up the good work and best wishes for the season from Australia. 

mrplankton2u's picture

Blu said:


" You have a full range of price points in the products listed for each catagory, so whatever your budget their is a product for you. "


I and I believe the facts disagree. 

Twelve amplifiers and only 1 barely under $2000 dollars?  A lot of folks in my world (hopefully the real world) would consider a thousand dollar amplifier to be on the high side of "budget". There is a vast array of high performance amps available on the market that cost considerably less than $1000. I would guess that the majority of amplifiers available for sale around the world fall into this category. So again, although I respect your right to your viewpoint, I disagree strongly with your sentiment

Staxguy's picture

What's the problem?

1) Products of the Year vs Recommend Components

Why can't everyone figure out this distinction? If you were collecting equipment, then you might wish to collect products of the year. If you were assembling a system, then you might wish to select from recommended components. If you were selling hi-fi, maybe you would wish to use both lists to sell your products.

I think it's customary to look over the past year, and see what the hilights were. Often, bloopers are mentioned, also. Here we have "over-achievers". What's so wrong with that...

2) Price Categories

If you look at the winning products of the year you will see that they fall far from the upper-price categories, and perhaps far from the lowest-also.

A MBL 9011 pair goes for $106,000 USD which would be entry-level into the upper price ranges, so $13,000 is about mid-level pricing in amplifier territory, I would say. about 10x more, over $100,000 / pair and you are talking upper-model amplifiers from Solution, FM Acoustics, Goldmund, Analog Domain, Boulder, Gryphon, Vitus, etc. and the other "big boys."

If someone would want to spend over $100,000 on their mechanical daily watch, likely they would on their hi-fi components, also. :) Which gives more pleasure?

The same $13,000 would get you a pair of Classe CTM-600 monoblock amps, or for $15,000 you'd get a Bryston 28B-SST2 pair, say, or $16,000 a Devaliet D-Premier integrated amp : not exactly the upper eschelon of price, all equivalent to working full time and saving about $6/hour off your salary for one year.

If I'm reading Top Gear, I'm not going to get depressed if their Car of the Year, a BAC Mono, costs $130,000, and isn't readily available. I'm only getting depressed if I can't insure it easily for road use once I decide I want it! :)

Likewise, I shouldn't get upset if Stereophile gives a Speaker of the Year award to something I don't own, or plan to. :) I'm not in the business of selling speakers.

Myself, I like the $180,000 Focal Grand Utopia III EM this year, but I'm not holding my breath until Stereophile agrees with me that this sounds better than Vivid. Maybe Vivid rocks? I just haven't heard it, and am not in a rush to as I don't really like the styling.

But to get back to price categories, the top end of speakers price wise is about $2,000,000 (Transmission Audio Ultimate), with a few more expensive gold ones from other companies being made as sculptures, largely.

I don't see Stereophile rushing to review such products, which would put everyone but the "1%" out of the hi-fi game, entirely. The net worth of the top US postal codes per family is about $30M, which makes it hard to sell products other than houses and cars at such relatively high price points.

TAS recently did a review of Amplifiers under $5000, and included the $900 Odyssey Audio Khartgo in their review. It's my guess that people complaining about the price-points of this Products of the Year article, either are confronted by financial challenges, due to various factors, or else aren't quite following the hi-fi news. $960 is about what my trusty Rotel RB-980BX ($600, 1993) would cost today, so it's not like relatively affordable hi-fi products are not getting produced, reviewed and recommened. You can find affordable hi-fi out there, if you look.

Personally, i would like to see more variety of products reviewed: inclusion at both the upper-price levels (European and Asian luxury products), well over $100,000 per component, and lower-price also, geared to enthusiasts.

So, why not reviews of every Emotiva electronic product, say, to allow for inclusion into active readership and ownership of not only the economically squeezed older folk (who seem to be speaking out here), but also the college or high-school kid, who wants to listen to alt-rock, or hardcore electronica, at amazing levels, and win the prize in adulation for the best dorm-room or basement hi-fi!

Reviews of products like Emotiva or Odyssey Audio would go along way into helping new-product sales, and not just fuel audiogon searches into the second hand older model or fire-sale market.

Alessandro1's picture

I have been following Stereophile for many years and an audiophile for about 30.

While I surely appreciate the information and opinions expressed by this magazine like others, I keep my ears and personal demo experience and not their comments as sole judge for my purchases.

More than once my personal experience has been less than exciting with the same gear that others named product of the year so I learned to be less impressed by certain enthusistic comments reported by the press.

Besides never forget that most audio gear perform quite differently from one audio system to another due to their specific synergies so each one of us can have quite different experience with the same piece with different outcomes from excellent to so-so ........

Not sure if it all the gear tested for this award are in the same room with the very same audio chain. Probably not....

I agree with many other postings that having a category winner  priced at several thousand of $$$ closely followed by a contender priced at only few hunders of $$ makes little sense and it is confusing. 

Each category should have probably a recommended product for three levels of budget:  low, mid and high.

Is the low priced item placing so well because the result of the genius  of an incredible mind and the high priced one instead the sole expression of cost no compromise implementation with little creativity and inspiration? Are they really sonically so close? Probably not.

 What about very expensive products not even mentioned?  Are they a rip off ?  I don't think so.   

What about very solid and good sounding gear that have been in production for years that just because aren't new on the market aren't even part of the pool of products up for consideration?

While we all appreciate the introduction of new products with the hope that may be some of them is even worth their substantial price tag, there should be nothing wrong in stating "hipotetically" that :  "Even this year a five years old running gear is still the best sounding out there".....but hey this would be so booring and more importantly not helping these magazines to fill their pages with new products ads, so here is their struggle which is that they sell them self as being on the consumers side....but in reality not quite......

Nobody wants ever to be the first to say loud that the "King is naked" nevertheles it will ever happen in this struggling industry.

Your years and demo are everything you will ever need.....


junker's picture

Thanks for the list Stereophile. It's much appreciated.

I'd support banning mrplankton2u. He's seems to have long ago lost the ability, capacity, or desire to be constructive, and has just gone off the deep-end of his confrontational ad hominem attack. Maybe he's off his "meds", but he seems like quite a douchey nit emboldened by on-line anominity is his lapse of propriety or restraint. 

Regadude's picture

Well said Junker.

mrplankton2u's picture

I think I've been rather kind overall considering what Stereophile has become and what the "audiophile hobby" has become as a result of the continued exploitation of OCD sufferers at the hands of advertising whores and sham product "manufacturers". I've watched over the past 25 years the community shrink and "normal" people at tradeshows being displaced by freaks and neurotics. Stereophile in the minds of a lot of professionals in the equipment business needs a name change:


The term "audiophool" actually has a place in the urban dictionary now thanks to the cadre of snake oil pushers and pseudo audiophiles who wouldn't actually know one end of a microphone or XLR cable from the other.


One who spends mass amounts of cash on ridiculous Audio components and accessories. They truly believe they can tell a difference, and come up with elaborate excuses to justify these purchases.


The above lists (including $144,000 amp and $42,000 mini monitors are a disgrace and not at al representative of what the industry stood for and promoted 30 years ago when I approached it as a hobbiest.

Now instead of continuing to attack me, perhaps Junker and Regadude have some turntables to polish or Bybee Golden Goddess Speaker Bullets ( I shit you not) to caress...

Regadude's picture

Plankton, I do have a turntable. It has a nice glossy finish, so I don't have to polish it. I just wipe it with a micro fiber cloth when needed.

But, most of the time, I use it to listen to music. You should try that sometime...

JohnnyR's picture digital format music. You know, the type that accuratly captures every note and leaves out all the pops, ticks,hiss, rumble and wow of vinyl? You should try it sometime and join the modern world.Now go back to wiping your shitty turntable.

GeorgeHolland's picture

Mrplankton2u has been way more constructive than you have.He's aways on topic and informative.What have you brought to this topic?Complaining? So calling some one a "douchey nit" is mature? Perhaps your goal is to be hired as a Stereophile writer with that sort of language. I think Stereophile should inforce an automatic ban of people who call for others to be banned. Would cut down on the BS in here.

tmsorosk's picture

I think Junker said all that needs to be said. Well done.

GeorgeHolland's picture

and I think MrPlankton2u said all that needed to be said. Well done!

jokeka's picture

Just because I can't afford all the cars they feature, I still enjoy reading Road and Track and Car & Driver ... just because I can't afford to go to every show on Broadway doesn't mean I don't read the reviews ... just because I can't afford $150,000 speakers doesn't mean I don't like reading about how they sound, how they are made, and how others enjoy them; then I turn the page to read about something I might be able to afford.  Maybe that's they key for some of the naysayers here: Turn the Page.    

mrplankton2u's picture

As noted, there is a universe of amplifiers and speakers that cost less than a thousand dollars. And with the right subwoofer(s), a lot of these systems will come remarkably close in performance to some of the $50,000 and up category. I support "audio porn" as much as the next guy/gal. That's not the issue here. The issue is that there are a lot of companies such as "Emotiva" mentioned earlier that are doing a damn good job with the products they make. Is it fair to pass over them or "cheap" PSB products in these "best of" comparisons because someone else is making a marginally better amp or speaker for 80 to 100 times the price? These "best of" lists are important because they have the potential to not only reward companies that produce the "finest flagship products" but also the products with the highest level of value and ingenuity that may not necessarily cost 6 figures. I'm sure there are a lot of companies that would love to say that their $500 widget received Stereophile's "best of the year" award. But clearly, that is not the market segment Stereophile has been focusing on- at least with this current rendition of its "best of" list. And that trend in the review press industry can be very destructive if left unchecked. And that is where "chronic complainers" (as I am being labeled) come in. Nobody likes a critic. But if we all stand around and pat ourselves on the back while problems go on unchecked, it can have consequences.  Just sayin.

Stephen Mejias's picture

The issue is that there are a lot of companies such as "Emotiva" mentioned earlier that are doing a damn good job with the products they make. Is it fair to pass over them or "cheap" PSB products in these "best of" comparisons because someone else is making a marginally better amp or speaker for 80 to 100 times the price?

No, it wouldn't be fair to "pass over" affordable products, which is why we haven't. Yes, several of our winners are very expensive, but the magazine also awarded some very high-value products, such as the Rega RP3 ($1095), which happened to beat out some extremely expensive competition, including the $15,0000 Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement phono cartridge and the $45,000 Wave Kinetics NVS Reference turntable. Our very most affordable winner of the year was the $250 AudioQuest DragonFly, which itself beat out some very worthy competition, including the $7000 Weiss DAC202.

And we've awarded many affordable products over the years, including the "cheap PSB products" you mention—the PSB Alpha B1 ($299/pair) was our 2007 Budget Product of the Year and made a very fine showing in our overall Loudspeakers category. It also happens to be my reference loudspeaker.

And I agree that Emotiva deserves attention. We've reviewed their products favorably, and I'll be visiting the company's Nashville headquarters next week.

JohnnyR's picture

......a $1095 turntable isn't a bargain. You keep pushing outdated tech. Remember your compulsion a year or so ago to get back into cassette tapes? What next 8-track tapes and Lear car players to play them on?

Pinault's picture

Hello fellow audiophiles, In my opinion it's obvious there are two different sides to this conflict. On one side we have the guys behind a magazine who want to produce engaging and interesting articles to keep readers coming back. To achieve this most magazines like said before in the blog will have to include the expensive top of the line almost impossible to acquire but highly aspirational products. Who wouldnt want to buy a Ferrari once in their lifetimes right? And this is what keeps new people coming to this sport by the way which is important for all of us who care about this. if there aren't aspirational products it would seem quite boring and not interesting to engage in high end audio. So what most of us do is dream about the Ferrari and go out there and benchmark what best fits our budget but would drive as close to that ferrari right? So we buy the camaro. lol but ferraris keep the news interesting how boring would car magazines be if the would only review Mazda 2 and ford fiesta and Chevy spark... Obviously we all want an expert opinion on every budget level and that's why we come to the experts before we go and buy our components.  But one thing I have found among audophiles since I have been engaged in this sport is that the most important opinions always follow "go hear for your self" so this pretty much sums it all. We all get nice opinions on stereophile on what to expect from high quality components but at the end we go out to the market and look for some of those attributes on our own budget.

Changing subject For a moment I want to tell you all that recognizing the high end technology is very important for all of us who don't have the resources for the expensive components. The research world is very simple, the most wealthy people who are the early adopters of the new technology pay the high price for this developments and us the more mortals will benefit later on as we will get that technology for much less which would have not been developed sans their patronage and later sold at a more affordable prices. For me I chear stereophile for promoting the accomplishments of all of this high end ridiculously expensive audio equipment who need to find homes in order to get those developments paid for. Which by the way I enjoy reading about cause I know a few years ahead when they come with new models I will be able to get this quality at a budget that works for my wallet. So everybody wins. On the other side it looks like some readers aren't happy that they are not getting recommendations at their budgets so maybe this is an area of opportunity for stereophile, try to see how to inform us of that high end technology that has cascaded into more affordable product lines once new generations of components are launched. Cause at the end we want the best audio experience we can afford. Editors just please know that youbhave a responsibility to us readers, we trust your opinions and we deserve honest answers and recommendations please don't fall into the business game in which more mentions are for the companies who buy more advertising and give every manufacturer a fair treatment. We will all benefit from this.

Please have fun! That's all that counts.

JohnnyR's picture

"reading about how they sound"

Uhhhhhhhh......yeah I guess reading about how  $150,000 speakers sound is marvelous. I would expect speakers to be just about damn near perect for THAT price.

It's rich man excess. The older I get the less high priced "toys" impress me. Ho hum oh look it's yet another super fast spors car I can't afford and the idiots who can can't even drive it without wrecking it in a two week time span. After a certain price it just becomes a status symbol and nothing more.Look at how many Ferraris and Lamborghinis are totaled each year by incompetent drivers. I'd not sell one untill the buyer takes a serious driving course to prove they can handle the car.

The trouble with "turn the page" is even the lower priced audio equipment has to be put through the subjective BS of the month club routine by whatever "reviewer" in Stereophile . God help you if JVS "reviews" something. Doesn't believe in measurments yet swears that every cable or power cord he's "listened" to sounds different. Yeah right.

Regadude's picture

Why do you doubt JVS when he says he hears differences in cables? Because you cannot? 

Just because YOU cannot run the 100 meters in 10 seconds, it does not mean that no one can... Such hubris on your part.

I have exotic cables in my system, and yes, I DO HEAR a difference and an improvement compared to cheaper stuff. Deal with it.

JohnnyR's picture

Thanks for admitting that you are on the same team as JVS. Now everyone can see just how gullible  you are! Ever do a SBT or DBT on those cables?  NO is your answer. "I know what I heard" BS is the norm on here. How laughable. "Say so" means NOTHING when it comes to proof. REAL testing DOES.

Talk about hubris on YOUR part. I'm seriously laughing so HARD right now xD

Regadude's picture

Johnny, you have never been to my home, and you have never heard my system. But, of course, you know how my system sounds better than I do. Do you have quantum resonating tri-molecular, temporal displacement hadrion capacitator ear drums?

You call exotic cables snake oil. It sounds to me like your reasoning and golden ears are the snake oil around here...

JohnnyR's picture

Oh I'm sure your system sounds the best in the youself so enjoy your overpriced cables. So reason is snake oil? YOU are the one claiming to have golden ears. [flame deleted by John Atkinson]

Atkinson, if you could control your members and stop deleting every little TRUE criticism I post on here, you might have a ratonal for being on here instead of claiming to work 60 hours a week and making EXCUSES for not doing tests on accessories. Maybe you could test Regadude's cables for him. Fat chance though.

John Atkinson's picture

JohnnyR wrote:
Atkinson, if you could control your members and stop deleting every little TRUE criticism I post on here, you might have a ratonal for being on here...

I warned you and others 2 weeks ago that I would delete flame postings and flames without notice. The content of yours that I have deleted and the posting of yours and Regadude's that I have deleted were just that, flames and personal comments addressed at other readers, not "true criticism."

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

junker's picture

Now not to give this guy any more attention than he deserves I wanted to move on and make a request for something I would like to see on the pages of stereophile - technical primers. For example, maybe an issue dedicated to amplifier design and some respresenative examples (possibly broken down by value, price, or topology) of each design with their pros / cons etc. For each topic maybe bring in a panel of diverse experts like say Papa Pass and Head of Engineering at McIntosh, etc.


I'd love to learn more about the current state-of-the-art in any number of topics including: speaker design (crossover), DA conversion, optimizing room acoustics, and even how-to manage digital files.


I think this kind of "deep dive" series could be very interesting and help out a lot of current, and potential subscribers. No need to be esoteric.

Many thanks!



JohnnyR's picture

Please don't make demands of JA he has a magazine to run and he will do what he wants!  Well that's the message he's been telling me and others lately.

Frankly I suggest some other forums to learn about what you suggested, There are plenty of good ones out there full of honest real info.

Regadude's picture

This website is great. Sure, you can consult other sites. But Stereophile is among the best. 

JohnnyR's picture

.........spoon feeding you what they want you to read. There are plenty of better websites for the technical and objective side, you know the REAL science of why and how things work.

Regadude's picture

Then why don't you read those sites instead of complaining here all the time, little Johnny?

JohnnyR's picture

........ignore my posts if you don't like them?  [flame deleted by John Atkinson]

GeorgeHolland's picture

Try the following: DIYaudio, Parts Express Tech Talk, Zaph Audio, Hydrogenaudio, Elliot Sound Products, Sean Olive's Audio Musings, Audio Karma,  Electrician Talk, Bad Caps Forums, Ethan Winer.........too many to list just start reading and you'll find links to everywhere.

stereo slim's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:

Stereophile in the minds of a lot of professionals in the equipment business needs a name change: STEREOPHOOL.

Now to support your claim, will you please mention a couple of persons who think so, or do those "professionals" prefer to hide in anonymity, too?

JohnnyR's picture

............everyone of them that post elsewhere and doesn't bother with this laugh track of a forum.

Enter your username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.